Photos a short story by Thomas White
This short animation follows a group of people through the passage of time. Opening with the group of people gather in front of the instant camera before the photographer organizes the group for the photo. The photographer joins the group, they all smile and “Pop” the photo is taken. A sequence that happens five times total, each time after the first the group is a bit older with a newer camera, zooming in a bit each time to give more detail to the effect that the passage of time is having. After the fifth photo is taken and the scene fades to white. Then each photo that was taken over the passing of time slowly comes into view and shrinks into the background, with the last photo taken coming into scene undeveloped and slowly appears from white on the instant film. The music stops as the final photo is fully developed and the music fades back in as the scene fades to white and the credits begin to roll.
The challenge of this project was how to tell a story without being able to draw well. I wanted to have a story with diversity but due to pandemic restrictions and not wanting to ask anyone I knew to pose to become a character in a story they had no say in. Finally after reading a story on the site Vice.com about a young female biker in Japan turned out to be a 50-year-old man who altered his age and gender using FaceApp, I knew what I had to do.
That story led me to try out the app and found that I could upload self-portraits and change each photo into a unique character which I then used the app to age each character, I finally made an additional copy of each character/age smiling, so I would have a copy of each character, at five different ages, both smiling and not smiling. From there I used the Adobe Photoshop Camera App on my phone to apply a grunge filter to each character photo to increase the contrast before applying the new step in styling the characters. After adding contrast, I used the Adobe Capture App to create a vector shape out of each character model. Finally, I opened each original character image in Adobe Photoshop, selected the subject to remove the background and used a layer mask to turn the character selection white before adding the black custom shape layer for each character, resulting in the almost photocopier style look.
My overall goal was to create a compelling story without words and with minimal movements. The color pallet is muted until the final photos are revealed to give a disconnect between the moment and looking back at the past moments. The opening sounds of the animation featuring the sound of a crackling record, adding to the layers of nostalgia. The original intended ending was to have a post credit scene where the people in the group would fade away one at a time, implying that the photos would outlive us all. When the rough draft of this animation came to the climax at the end and the music abruptly cut off as the final photo was on screen, that struck me as a better ambiguous ending, leaving the meaning up to the viewer.